British doctors fit patients with pacemakers that let them track their heart rates on their smartphones in world first
- A medical breakthrough means patients can track their heart rate and exercise levels
- Through the device in their chest they can also check how much battery life it has left wherever they are
- The smart pacemakers send the information via Bluetooth straight to a smartphone app.
British doctors have become the first in the world to fit heart patients with pacemakers connected to their smartphones.
The medical breakthrough means patients can track their heart rate and exercise levels through the device in their chest and check how much battery life it has left wherever they are.
The smart pacemakers send the information via Bluetooth straight to a smartphone app.
The medical breakthrough means patients can track their heart rate and exercise levels through the device in their chest. Doctors are seen programming a new pacemaker
Before, patients had to visit their doctor every few months to get data read-outs on how their pacemaker was performing.
Now, the new generation of pacemakers produce daily updates so doctors can pick up irregularities remotely and switch patients to blood-thinning drugs more quickly.
The app also allows patients to record their symptoms, weight and blood pressure.
In Britain, 25,000 people a year are fitted with pacemakers – roughly 500 a week. The devices are implanted surgically into patients with slow heart rhythms to send electrical pulses to the heart and keep it beating correctly.
Smart pacemakers have taken years to develop because the information they transmit needed to be encrypted and unhackable.
But the first patients, including three men and a woman in their 70s, were last week given the devices at Southampton General Hospital and the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
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Dr Paul Roberts, a consultant cardiologist at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, where the first smart pacemakers were used, said: ‘Smart pacemakers are the future and provide peace of mind for patients, whose number one question to cardiologists tends to be how much battery they have left on their pacemaker.
‘They also empower patients to engage with the pacemaker and monitor their heart health and physical activity.’
Where pacemakers once had a battery life of seven to ten years, the most up-to-date versions can last for 12 years.
Connecting them to Bluetooth will also help improve battery life. Prior to the use of wireless technology, the patient would wave a device in front of their body at home to check the battery life.
The smart pacemakers send the information via Bluetooth straight to a smartphone app. Pictured are the cardiac team at University Southampton Hospital
However, this would also drain the battery. Dr John Paisey, another consultant cardiologist at UHS NHS Foundation Trust, performed four out of five of the world’s first smart pacemaker procedures.
He said: ‘This is extremely exciting technology which enables us to coordinate everything from the implantation of a pacemaker and its initial programming through to ongoing real-time monitoring via a smartphone – all by low- energy Bluetooth.’
Other smartphone-connected medical devices include microchips under the skin, which produce ECG readings from the heart, and smart insulin pumps for diabetics, which are still in development.
In 2014, doctors at UHS implanted the world’s smallest pacemaker, known as the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System, which is one-tenth the size of traditional models and is placed directly in the heart.
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